Category Archives: Humour

The everyday trial

Today, the topic I wish to write about, it truly a nation-al one. In my house, there were two ‘camps’ – the pro-Arnab Goswami and anti-Arnab camp. My dad, like so many others, loves him and waits for the Newshour and follows the ‘30 minutes to Newshour’ strapline on the ticker. I loathed him with an intensity reserved for few people – like those who think the world loves their face so much that they upload a selfie every alternate day on facebook – and trust me, I would walk off the moment I heard that irritating newshour music. Notice how I was using the past tense? No, no its not that I love the show now but yes, I do sit through some of his debates and do not walk off as soon as dad puts on channel no 366.

MUMBAI, INDIA ? APRIL 03: Arnab Goswami, Indian Journalist, Editor in Chief and News anchor of the news channel Times Now at his office in Mumbai.(Photo by Bhaskar Paul/India Today Group/Getty Images)

MUMBAI, INDIA ? APRIL 03: Arnab Goswami, Indian Journalist, Editor in Chief and News anchor of the news channel Times Now at his office in Mumbai.(Photo by Bhaskar Paul/India Today Group/Getty Images)

The other day I happened to read his interview on scroll and Arnab’s answer to the question of ‘all the shouting and finger-pointing on times now’ kind of got me thinking:

 He said ‘After eight years of news leadership, if the only charge that sticks against Times Now is that we make our point too directly then it’s a good thing. I would be more worried if people would accuse us of corruption or impropriety, (as some channels have been). Being clear and unambiguous is a charge that I am comfortable with.’

Yes, formally or even otherwise, I have not heard anything about him being corrupt or of the channel having any clear political leanings, as some other channels have been accused of. He has always been as aggressive, be it any government in power; he is as much a boogeyman to Nalin Kohli of the BJP, as he was to Sanjay Jha of the Congress. And it is the time of low standards set by some media outlets, where the proximity between them and those in power crossed levels of fariplay, that being non-partisan can be seen as the biggest virtue. What would be the point of a nuanced debate if there is an obvious bias, right?

Ofcourse, there are a lot of things to not like about Arnab’s show. He invites half the country as guests on the news debate and then pigeonholes them in boxes, where some of them are conveniently forgotten till the end of the show. And as an ad by a rival channel would show, there is an unhealthy amount of jingoism when it comes to shows relating to Pakistan. Then there is the then oversimplification of issues, the tendency to search for a daily villain, there is so much that one could dislike about the show and the man. My main complain with watching Arnab’s show was that by the end of the debate, I would not end up learning more about the issue from various perspectives, inspite of his overcrowded guesthouse.

But the other day after watching the entire debate of Gajendra ‘ junge love’ Chauhan – the person appointed as chairman of the FTII and the controversy around it – I was all the more convinced about what worked for Arnab, apart from being seen as non-partisan. I think, we as a people are tired of the entire ‘corrupt system’ ‘corrupt politicians’ cycle that keeps playing ad nauseam. The trial in courts – if indeed it goes to trial – we know will take ages, and it is here that ‘Justice Arnab’ appeals to our baser instincts: the hope to see these scamsters, these politicians punished for what they are doing in any way possible. A ‘media trial’ is an unhealthy trend ofcourse but when I saw a clown like Chauhan being absolutely stripped to smithereens – his own stupidity here playing a major part – on the show, I felt this sense of vindication. Oh yes, eventually because of blatant political reasons, you may end up being the FTII chief, but ‘in the court of Arnab’ you were shown who you are. In the 45-minute long debate – it was after a long while that I could sit through the debate – a baser part of me felt good.

And that is what I realized works for Arnab, for the better or worse. The news and developments of the day sometimes become a byproduct to the main show in which is Arnab going after these people whom we hope to see punished but are not sure they will not be, at least in our lifetimes. It is for that hour long vindication, when Arnab shouts at Fadnavis saying how dare you stop a plane for an hour and see his spokesperson struggle for words, that for sometime, people feel that politicians are not high flying netas, but public servants, and thereby accountable to the people, a class that Arnab claims to represent every night at 9.

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Ramzan & me

Ramzan or Ramadhan, whichever way you like it – I prefer Ramzan after learning that Ramadhan is a Saudi import and am not a big fan of the influence that place has had on Islam – is unlike any other months of the Islamic calendar, literally and otherwise. The beauty of the ninth month of the lunar calendar, is that you start looking out for it months in advance – ok three months for Ramzan, two months, Ramzan is only a week away; partly with a sense of anticipation and partly with dread. Of all the practices that Islam has, fasting is something that I relate to quite a bit, inspite of it being one of the most demanding one.

The way I look at it, and I am sure we all at some point find our own meanings while pursuing religious practises, it is the month of discipline – where by sheer force of will you tide over so many things. While on a normal day, even though you are stuffed, you still can’t resist the fragrance of a freshly fried bhajiya; during Ramzan, you somehow find it within you to whizz past it – maybe with some help from visualizing the sufra (the tablecloth on which sumptuous eatables are kept) that awaits you during iftaari !

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Ramzan, to me, brings back beautiful childhood memories. As a kid I wanted to fast – maybe as a means to be counted as an adult, something which rather foolishly most children want – and would convince my mother every night to wake me up for sehri (the pre-dawn meal), cause without that there would be no fasting. The way I would know she was ‘conning’ me was when she would agree to wake me up and not ask me before sleeping what I would eat for sehri. Just before she would go to sleep, my class 5 angry self would approach her with the swagger of a cop who spots a person walking suspiciously on a deserted street in the night and ask: so why didn’t you ask me what I will eat for sehri? It means you aren’t waking me up and I am not fasting. I would then go to sleep with a huff.

Don’t ask about the delight on days that I would find myself awake for sehri. Having a breakfast with all family members at that hour was like being allowed entry in a privileged club meant only for adults.

After waking up, for the first half of the day, you don’t even begin calculating, knowing well that the counting will throw up a number that you wouldn’t particularly like. I think it’s around 5 o’clock, when, with a slightly heavy head, the sense of anticipation begins. Another highlight of the fast, is the final few moments before Iftaar (evening meal when the fast is ended), when you have actually conquered the day, but the last few minutes, knowing their importance quite well, will amble along leisurely. Also no matter what’s on the menu, there is no place like home for iftar. Just the pure unrushed serenity that ensures you end the fast not all at once but enjoy every moment, you’ve waited all day.

Here again, the key to iftar is to not declare an all out war on food/water, no matter how thirsty or hungry you are. My amateur self (I’m really making it sound like a life skill) would at times gulp down a few glasses of water as soon as it was time and the hunger just vanished and I’d feel so stupid. The right way of doing iftar – oh yes over the years I believe there is a right way – is to go real slow even though all your instincts want you to not bother going for the spoon and directly attack the utensils.

As roza’s pass by, my mind again tilts towards mathematics. It starts – I rather shamefully admit – right after the third fast is complete. Without exception, every year after the third fast, some part of my head displays this: 1/10th over. This is how it usually pans out:

5 days – 1/6th over

6 days – 1/5th over

10 days – 1/3rd over (WHOA)

12 days – 4/10th over (its true)

15 days – ½ over (super whoa)

And now, things start getting a bit slow just like the moments before iftaar and I give up on calculations till day 27 (9/10th) and then well Eid Mubarak :D. Pudhcha varshi lavkar ya

courtesy: rubriker.tk

courtesy: rubriker.tk

The socket hunters

So the other day I go to this restaurant and realizing the slow and painful (more on that later) death my phone is going through. I rush to the hotel owner with this you-have-to-save-me look and ask him if there is a socket using which I could charge my mobile phone. He smiled and gave me that oh-I-get-this- so-many-times-its-not-funny look before pointing towards a socket hidden behind a fridge, almost invisible, maybe deliberately so.

I think our smart phones (which maybe are not as smart after what they are turning us into) are turning us into a generation of socket hunters. Ok I may be succumbing to hyperbole here but it seems – at least to me- every second person I meet is afflicted by this ‘I have low battery’ syndrome. While if you search online, you will find scores of articles about how the next smart phone should ensure it has good battery life, something desperately (more or less) missing from most smart phones these days. They are adding apps, games and other (relatively unimportant features), but when it comes to the thumb rule of a mobile being able to last longer, they are screwing it up. (ok diversion, random ranting)

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So you try to ‘instill the habit’ of charging your phone first thing you get up in the morning but as far as its execution goes, your guess is as good as mine. On most days after you leave home, in the first few minutes for sure, you realize the battery life, on a lucky day, is somewhere around 60 per cent. And then those damn calculations begin. Ok no music, data off; or maybe no music, data on; no music data on but 3G off and so on and so forth. There better you get technology, the more permutations and combinations you have and thereby more confusion.

No matter what you do, on most days, and following Murphy’s law, the most important days, as you are maybe headed back to office, it is a race against how much (battery) your phone sucks and how quickly you can locate the next socket. (As I do not use a portable battery charger that is not an option. Have to still make up my mind on that front). And that is when the phone begins to die a slow (and extremely painful for your mental health) death and along with the battery starts sucking your blood. Kala Ghoda: battery life 10 per cent, check; Marine Lines 8 per cent check; Elphinstone road 6 per cent check; all this amidst being cautious that you do not check it too many times lest: it drains your battery.

Finally you reach office and recharge your phone. On most occasions all sockets in the office would be occupied and according to a CHDS survey (these are made up these days right?) or an exit poll ( since we are in election season) on a particular day you will meet atleast two persons who are looking around wide eyed (and visible stress) for that elusive unoccupied charging point, that socket to resuscitate their mobile back to life. The statistic will go to three a day, in case you are counting yourself.

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PS: Not a bad thought to start charging for charging points.

The ‘lowly’ crime

If all crimes that survive and thrive in Mumbai were categorized into some sort of hierarchy, ‘chain snatching’ would be right below the bottom of the pile. Pick pocketing is now somehow associated with nostalgia, something that happened in Bombay. Chain snatching however is flung about like an example of all that is wrong with crime reporting, like it brings disrepute to the fraternity; like some gangrene infested finger that should someday be relieved if crime reporting is to be taken seriously.

There have been innumerable instances when I have heard this: ‘yeh chain snatching cover karne ki liye main journalism me nahi aaya/aayi thi’ while ranting about reporting. At times, the voice that I heard was also one emanating from my head. It is however one of the best things that can happen to you if you have to make up your mind to quit crime reporting, it’s the lowest denominator.

In fact apart from reporters, much to my surprise I have heard a ‘deskie’ who after quitting said ‘I did not go abroad to edit chain snatching stories’. So apparently chain snatching was all that was wrong with the world. Maybe one of the recent press club election nominees could have promised, ‘If I am elected, I will pass a resolution to ban reporting on chain snatching to get the votes of the crime reporters lobby.’ Maybe?

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A cop once gave me a solution that he believed would help everyone: the cops, the journalists and the chain snatchers themselves. While over casual conversation when I asked him about the rising instances of chain snatching he smiled, move forward as if telling a secret that would be lost if said loudly, and whispered with an air of Confucian wisdom, ‘aap log report karna band kar do, chain snatching apne aap band ho jayegi’.

I momentarily thought that apart from dry days (story wise), I would not mind it and the cops would ofcourse be more than happy. But his notion of chain snatchers not snatching chains because we don’t report on it, like somehow they will forget about the ‘art’ reminded me of Gabrial Garcia Marquez and the stuff of magic realism. Later thankfully the cop guffawed like a buffoon indicating ‘he thought’ it as a joke.

Personally while reporting on the crime beat, I had my own struggles with chain snatching. Apart from the very many occasions when I have ‘gone with the crowd’, I also felt that it was one of the biggest crimes plaguing the city then. Chain snatching was so prevalent the police commissioners were talking about it publicly as their biggest headache.

I remember this phase when this movement ‘report chain snatching’ carried out a coup in my head and I recollect feeling good after I had reported a package – two-three stories- on the same. I remember telling friends and colleagues with missionary zeal how it was so important to report on it.

Then however after I had switched from the crime to the court beat, and I heard a press release was issued for the arrest of two chain snatchers, it tickled me. ‘Press release for chain snatchers arrest? Seriously?,’ I questioned myself slightly amused. The law of averages I realized had worked on me over time; the coup had failed, the zeal had gone.

Ways of seeing

There are at least five different ways in which tragedy can strike me at any given place at any given point. I think. May be, and most likely I am more paranoid than others in my clan, but reporting on the dark side of human nature comes along with its own baggage I would say. Scarred is too big a term but crime reporting will ensure that you know of many more ways in which things can go wrong, than you did before which is not exactly a good thing.

I remember having gone to this hill station with friends and found this beautiful isolated spot. I sat there for a few minutes taking  in the view, till my sub conscious mind, that by now has become a receptacle of all things bad, played spoilsport. I thought of how someone could come on a bike, snatch my mobile wallet etc and flee. Or they could push me so that I do not reveal to the cops how they looked. While I sat for some more time, the possibility being thrown up at that almost picture perfect moment was irritating.

Every time I pass the road connecting Marine Drive to Churchgate station, and cross a three star hotel located there, I remember how someone had jumped from the terrace and committed suicide. When I pass Hindu colony in Dadar, I do not fail to mention to someone, if anyone is along, or make a mental note about it myself for the umpteenth time how a woman who stayed all alone at an empty bungalow and was murdered. I am sure most of my clan have such ‘landmarks’, unwillingly.

In the backdrop of these things, the fact that my reference point, while taking directions for a place, is the local police station, more or less does not even deserve a mention. Like at most times, it was while answering a friend who asked me if reporting on crime affects me, that I realized a few things myself.

On most days crime reporters report on the dark side of human nature, which in comparison to the overall population is an aberration. But reporting on these aberrations everyday, over a period of time, kind of blurs that line and one, at a certain level, begins to think of it as a rule. That such things happen everywhere all the time. It would help the cops a great deal if we all thought this way !!

How many times have I, while entering my building or relatives building, tried to make a mental image of the building watchman, local help following the number of cases I reported in which a domestic help or the watchman turned out to be involved in a crime. In one way it makes one overcautious and can come in handy. But that is one way of looking at things. You get to see the others side, when you look at a serene view and it reminds you of a crime story.

Through monasteries and the dance of death (2/3)

The next day we would head to north Sikkim for an overnight trip. It would be the coldest leg of our trip, or to put it crudely: the real shiz bro. Bro, I learnt there was also the abbreviated version of Border Roads Organization. Although, their boards will remind you less of safety and more of the Bro Superior: Barney Stinson.

The BRO code

The BRO code

Anyways so we travelled from Gangtok (East Sikkim) to North Sikkim. North Sikkim is like one mini incursion away from China. Ok sorry :P. While we could not go to the Nathula Pass, one of the three open trading border posts between India and China, or the much touted Gurudongmar lake due to snow – making me realize that visiting that part in December was not exactly a bright idea –we did go to the beautiful snow clad Yumthang valley.

The scenic and snowy Yumthang valley

The scenic and snowy Yumthang valley

It was an organized tour and like all organized tours there were little groups formed which made for some good old saas bahu moments during the trip. And all this was happening in the backdrop of some absolutely retarded numbers belted out by our driver. While I thought they were songs from shady B grade movies, I am now horrified to find they are songs from our mainstream Bollywood movies. I shall sample a few:

(You have to read the lyrics. Hyperlinked for you above)

Now once we reached North Sikkim, I realized that the absence of heat has to be filled in by will power. The thing with these near sub-zero places is that even deciding whether to drink water or go to the loo is a painful process. You need a constant supply of will power as your body refuses to get out of the little comfort zones it gets into. But I do carry fond memories of the bonfire we arranged for and the conversations with several locals there in that little oasis of heat.

The recipe of a good journey includes this pungent ingredient called blunder. We had a good journey which therefore entailed a mini blunder. A day before we were to board a train from New Jalpaiguri (NJP) to Guwahati, we realized that the train was not at 11.30pm from NJP but was rather reaching Guwahati at that time. The boarding time at NJP was 2.30pm, roughly 10 hours earlier. I had not checked the tickets properly. And assuming the train was at 11.30pm the next day which give us another day, we had planned to leave for Darjeeling and travel bookings were almost done.

Now it is at such times you realize the importance of whom you are travelling with. Some hyperventilating clown could have blown up the issue and some unwanted drama would be in place. Vijay and me on the other hand, quickly cancelled the bookings and in half-an-hour from the time we had stumbled upon the blunder, were on the way to Rumtek and Ranka monasteries in Sikkim. No tempers running high. No unwanted fuss.

An ever smiling driver (he was smiling all the time even once when he was slightly miffed with us) took us to Rumtek monastery which is the most beautiful monastery in Sikkim. The moment we stepped in there, I had a feeling that plan B was better than plan A. Maybe I had reason to be optimistic considering I had screwed up.

The beautiful and serene Rumtek monastery

The beautiful and serene Rumtek monastery

In what further confirmed that it was not merely some guilt that was brought out the aesthete in me at the monastery, when we reached the Ranka monastery, we were witness to the Lama dance: a dance that takes places only once a year. Maybe the gods were happy that we accepted our karma (the fuck up) earlier that day with aplomb and was rewarding us. Ok maybe it’s the monastery talking. There were monks with masks and constumes dancing with knives in hand. It was a scary sight. And apparently it was meant to be that way.

The lama dance. This particular dude was quite scary.

The lama dance. This particular dude was quite scary.

When I asked someone about the relevance, they told me that it was believed that anyone who saw the dance would no longer fear death. It made perfect sense to me, as by now it had instilled the fear of god in me. There were several children who were being encouraged/coaxed by their parents to see the dance (when I searched online I came across a slightly different explanation for the Lama dance although I like the one the lady told me better)

Dance in progress

Dance in progress

And then I did something that I had wanted for a long time. I have always been curious about the lives of monks and finally got talking to a 23-year-old monk from Bhutan. I went bonkers. The journalist in me took over.

Me: Are you allowed to eat meat/marry/play/../..? and on and on

Monk: People generally think that life in a monastery is hard. That Buddhism is very rigid. But it is not that way. There are certain things we are not allowed to do in a monastery but once we are on leave, we are allowed most things. Buddhism is not that rigid.

Me: So when you go to Bhutan and meet your friends who are not monks do you envy that?

Monk: No ya, I think Buddhism is Ok. I think it is about being satisfied with what you have. You will always want more. Its about being satisfied.

Now every third person you meet could tell you something like that. But somehow when it came from him, the words had a peaceful effect on me. I realized sometimes the WHO matters more than the WHAT.

On the way back we got talking to a father who had come to drop his son, now a monk, to the monastery and discussed religion with him. All in all by the end of the day we did not regret missing Darjeeling. What I felt bad was not being able to meet this friend (the stranger with whom I celebrated my birthday) based in Darjeeling who was looking forward to meet us there. Some other day I guess, some other trip rather 🙂 . Like they say Inshaallah

For me one of the best things about travelling is the actual travel time. I love those bus rides which will take like 5-6 hours. All I need is a window seat (optional as years have gone by) and some good music. This time round I had great music. Some wise cell in my head prompted me to take Rabbi along and his music resulted in so many beautiful moments. In fact looking back on of the best moments I had was on this bus ride from Gangtok to Siliguri listening to Rabbi’s songs. Like a friend said, ‘That man is something else.’

Now it was that time of the trip when trains were trolling us. When we reached the NJP station, the train – because of which we had to skip Darjeeling was – wait for it — 17 hours late. We somehow got a ticket and bundled ourselves bag and baggage into the next train and landed at Guwahati station in Assam at 4am.

I think all the fatigue gave way when we found these special tea stalls in Assam. So in Assam, the tea stall owners have these mini plastic packets containing different types of cakes, donuts, puris, that you can have along with tea. I freaked out and had nearly five cake slices and a few donuts atleast.(pic) One day Vijay and me would spend Rs 125 on one tea stall where the cost of tea was Rs 6 :-/ I knew for the next three days, my breakfast was sorted.

The tea seller

  The tea seller

The tea seller's wares :)

The tea seller’s wares 🙂

Then I had the best baths of my life. It had nothing to do with the facilities. I had not bathed for like 4 days :-/ Before you judge me don’t negate the extreme cold and the following water problem in our Sikkim hotel. I felt I was in some kind of trance and could go on bathing. Nevertheless, post the bath, I was now set to explore Assam and Meghalaya . . .

Through the land of prayer flags (1/3)

Hours before the trip to Northeast India, the most ambitious trip I was to undertake, Vijay and I felt we were almost caught off guard as the temperature prediction for NE kept going down with every new person we met. While I knew December in NE was going to be cold, I did not want to only end up battling the weather during the course of my trip to this already unknown place. While we were ready with thermal wear and other ammunition to battle the weather, we would know if the firepower was enough only when we reached there.

Every trip has fucked up moments, irritating moments, moments that make you question why you had to step out of your comfort zone (the topic of an earlier blog). For good or bad, we were faced with a relatively milder version of this on the very first day when we took a tempo traveler ride from Siliguri in West Bengal to Gangtok in Sikkim(I love mentioning these far off places like I travel there every third day).

The prayer flags in Sikkim

The prayer flags in Sikkim

Three of us had barely cramped into the back seat of the traveler knowing well this is how travelling happens: with multiples of the actual seating capacity stuffed in the vehicle. The multiples vary depending upon how ambitious the driver is. Just about when we felt we had barely fit in (I am not the fittest person around), the back door was pulled open with such ferocity, that the guy sitting in the middle – whose back rest was attached to the back door – almost tumbled down.

We looked behind to an ambitious sidekick of our driver standing with another man smiling ear to ear. We tried to make as scornful a face as we could since we knew what was going to happen. We looked at the sidekick in disbelief. The sidekick told the smiling guy ‘baith jao’ pointing towards our seat with conviction that would make Pratibhatai Patil proud. The guy looks at us, we look at each other. I muttered something to the effect of ‘kahan baithega ye’. Before the words had reached the sidekicks ears, the funny looking guy had already parachuted into the car.

By that awesome law of physics operating exclusively in Indian tempo travelers, the guy managed to squeeze in. We could curse under our breaths till the cows came home, but the guy was not only seated, he was on the phone to someone directing where he was. As we look at him bewildered, the dude not only managed to give his co-ordinates on a busy Siliguri road, he was now half leaning on Vijay, waving out to the guy he was directing on the phone. It was a little vertical opening of a window carrying silhouettes of four cramped people at the back of a moving car, but the power of foolish optimism.

After being cramped like ill sized peas in a rickety pod, the next thing you hope in such a circumstance is to see the vehicle zoom off. (Or maybe that another person is not packed off to this little space which the powers that be feel is elastic) But then remember that bastard Murphy? Yes, the vehicle doesn’t start because once the driver is there and the sidekick is not. And then the other way round. We look on helplessly.

Well to cut a long story short, when the vehicle stopped at Gangtok I was not sure if I was touching my legs or some random stumps left behind. I couldn’t confidently deny the possibility of the next two days being spent in nursing an injured back. I think the only silver lining in the pitch black cloud that we found all around was the random unverified trivia blurted out by one of the fellow commuters like 70 % of people in Sikkim are Nepalis and so on and so forth. And the second silver lining: I had my birthday in a few hours 😀

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The first high of the trip (apart from a loving birthday gift that really made me both happy and highly emotional) was the fact that at 12am on December 17, I was chilling with three people, the existence of two of whom I was oblivious about till December 16, 11.55pm. So we saw two people chilling outside our hotel room, invited them in and the four of us brought in my birthday. Nothing fancy but I was kicked by what was happening.

When a friend called up asking how the birthday was going, I replied “this is the most ‘different birthday’ I have ever had.” I loved it. And I will tell you why: Before starting the trip, I had asked myself what did I want the most from the trip: one of the answers was I wanted to interact with a lot of new people. I wanted to know how people lived their lives outside my little social circle. And hence I asked many questions to whomever we met during the trip. And so in my head, this box was ticked off. Here I was, of all things, celebrating my birthday with new and interesting people.

Well here I have to mention this funny hotel manager we met. We would remember him through the trip for the funny encounters we had with him. During a conversation with us, when the manager was boasting to us his friend’s drug taking prowess, he held his hands at a distance of a horizontally held brick and said, ‘itna ganja khaaya woh’. Vijay and I were aghast. I mean he could smoke that up but as we enquired in unison ‘khaaya?’ wondering what beast eats up a brick full of dope.

He attempts to clarify his claim: ‘khaaya nahin khaaya’ :-/

We look on.

Then it strikes him we are not bongs: ‘khaaya matlab piya’ hum log piya ko khaaya bolta hain.

This episode would generate us a journey full of lame jokes.

Another funny episode with the guy happened was when he realized Vijay deals in foreign exchange. He got 1000 Vietnamese dongs, some 500 Tanzania shilling and other relatively decent amounts in foreign currency that he got as tips from foreigners. Looking at him one felt that he was secretly hoping that the money will secure his old age. He was hopefully looking at Vijay as the later did his calculations. After a few minutes Vijay tells him: they are worth around Rs 30. To rub it in Vijay says ‘ tum ek time ka khana kha sakte ho isse’ (it is enough to purchase lunch once). I will here not attempt to describe the look on the poor man’s face. I can say with some certainty that the next batch of foreigners that go there will not be well served.

The next day we went for a ‘local sightseeing tour’ which began on an interesting note and ended up on a rather funny one. We went to the directorate of Sikkim handicraft and handloom where we had a good time. Of all the awesome things we saw, I think worth mentioning is the cute little typewriter which was actually used as a calculator back in the day. It had no alphabets only numbers and the calculation signs. I had no clue such a thing existed.

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The second interesting thing was a preserved beehive dating back to 1937. As it is bereft of any honey, one can actually see the structure of a beehive. Like there are little floors in it and small pillar like things. I was blown away by it.

I could have had a photograph of it because of Narendra Modi. No, no, I am not some random Muslim blaming him for everything 😛 He had visited the place a month back. He told them to stop photography as repeated clicks could impact some of the paintings that had paints made out of fruits. So well depending upon your political affiliations you can decide accordingly.

Passing through some waterfalls and ‘view points’ we reached the funny part of the tour: the flower exhibition. Someone on a blog had rated it pretty high on the to-do list. What we found on reaching there were some dead flowers (to be fair some were alive)!!.

In fact there were so many flowers refusing to look at us, relegated to dejection that Vijay quipped ‘dude this is like ‘phoolon ka kabrastan’ (a graveyard of flowers). I think I agreed with him. We also clicked some dead ones for proof !But an awesome photo exhibition by the Sikkim photography club on the same premises more than made up for the earlier bereavement.

Some of the dead flowers

Some of the dead flowers

The alive ones

The alive ones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However the one thing that accompanied us throughout the day were prayer flags. Sikkim is full of prayer flags. Seen in the background of the blue skies it is such a picture of serenity that ironically I could not hardly resist the temptation to go bonkers with my mobile camera. The day ended on another high: a Nepali rock band performance. The trip was going well so far. Some fuck ups were on their way though…

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